Inchon (1982) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
13Jun/100

Inchon (1982)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny INDIFFERENTThere are few genres as passe at the moment as the star-studded war picture. What thrived through the 50's and 60's from The Longest Day or The Guns of Navarone was topped by Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line in the 90's and hasn't been seen since.

Unarguably the nadir of the genre is Inchon, a 1982 overview of the first half of the Korean War that takes us from a married couple's squabbles, two lovers torn apart, and, of course, the General's daring plan to retake the port of Inchon and drive the North Korean army back.

I should point out, before I start any of this, that I got this movie as a bootleg off a television broadcast. Since this movie never got a video release, this is the best quality available, which is a shame; the film is shown chopped off from 2:35:1 to 1.33:1. This severely detracts from the action and composition of the shots, and gives the whole affair a made-for-television feel. Should this film ever get a proper release, I may revisit it.

As it stands, though, the made-for-TV look is matched by the made-for-TV level acting and plotting. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Inchon begins with the North Koreans breaking through the Demilitarized Zone and invading South Korea in 1950. The places are given meticulously, but a chuckle-worthy title card notes "Where dramatic license has been deemed necessary, the authors have taken advantage of this license to dramatize this subject."

So we get this drama from lame character entanglements and different people's stories as they trek through the mire. There's a Major in charge of defense played by Ben Gazzara, his mistress and his wife, Jacqueline Bisset. Bisset is inconvenienced by a horde of orphans she suddenly finds she has to take care of. She gets occasional help from Gazzara's friend, Richard Roundtree. Toshiro Mifune pops in for a scene talking about how terrible the war will be. David Jensen and Rex Reed play journalists who mumble about how important and great Douglas MacArthur is.

And General Douglas MacArthur is the hero of the film. Played by vastly overrated thespian Laurence Olivier. Olivier is almost unrecognizable behind makeup that seems far more suitable for a portrayal of Adlai Stevenson than MacArthur. Olivier gives MacArthur kind of an off-center aura that's tough to explain; you never really feel like you're watching man perform these tasks, but like a puppet going through the motions. In fact, put a goofy nose on Fozzie Bear, and you've almost instantly got the same damn performance.

Between the battle scenes, the strategic planning for the battle scenes, and the brief but dull interludes of character drama, there's nothing terrible offensive in Inchon. There's nothing exactly terribly interesting either.

Inchon is surprisingly reviled in the film world, and that can traced back to not the film itself but the environment it was released in. Like Battlefield Earth, Inchon is the big budget vanity product of a cult. In the early 1980's, the cult of Reverend Sun Myung Moon dreamed up this story to demonstrate how MacArthur had acted out of God's divine will, and invested nearly $50 million of his own church's money to finance it. Adjusting for inflation, that gives this movie a budget of around $130 million when adjusted to today's money, and the film's entire revenues, generously estimated at $2 million, would not even be $7 million now.

 

So you have a dull movie that's one of the biggest theatrical flops ever made. You can read all about the disasters behind the making of this film and the controversy surrounding it in this fairly comprehensive Wikipedia article. It's much more interesting than this inoffensive dull turd of a movie.

Inchon (1982)

This film has never been released on VHS or DVD.

IMDB
Directed by Terence Young
Written by Robin Moore and Laird Koenig
Starring Laurence Olivier, Richard Roundtree, and Ben Gazzara

Posted by Danny

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